by Malik Hall
One morning in his tween years, Jeremy Belcher woke up and started a strange ritual of cracking his knuckles. Something felt off with them, and at the time he wasn’t exactly sure what it was. A few years down the road, he would freak out party goers by bending his fingers to the back of his hand. Belcher decided to take the name F1NG3RS when making his original video game music (VGM) because of this unique skill.
His years of musical experience, starting with piano at the early age of six, has allowed F1NG3RS to adapt electronic music to particular styles. From Lo-Fi hip-hop blends to synthwave mixes, you can feel the influence of video games while he still stays true to the sound he is trying to convey. At the heart of his discography are three concept albums known as VGM (1-3). These were made as if they were to be soundtracks to a video game conceptualized by F1NG3RS. The tones of the albums got darker as they progressed.
“Yeah so with the VGM series, that was kind of a way for me to write music for video games that don’t exist. Each album had a feel, concept and tone that I was trying to go after. I think my music fits in these futuristic dystopian type settings. That was kind of a running theme with the past VGM albums, it started a little more on the upbeat/chip side and then things go darker as the series went on,” said F1NG3RS.
Everyone has hurdles to their craft, and for F1NG3RS it is part of the meaning of his moniker. F1NG3RS’ joint flexibility is actually a connective tissue disorder — Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which has no cure in sight and has been causing more issues as he ages.
“It started to (affect his music creation) this past year. I started to tire out during DJ sets, and it takes a long time to recover after doing convention weekends. In the 30s is when it (EDS) starts to kinda go bad. Before this it was just party tricks, I mainly feel it in my joints, as they extend past where they’re supposed to,” said F1NG3RS.
Refusing to let his condition bring him down, he uses vlogs and social media — on both his condition and mental illness — to uplift anyone else going through what he has experienced. Despite F1NG3RS’ EDS condition being incurable, he is doing what he can to combat the more significant symptoms and is seeing a geneticist in February to determine which of the thirteen subtypes of EDS he has.
In Richmond, the video game music scene may be seen as a niche culture, but F1NG3RS is still a bit modest about his fanbase. On certain forum pages, Facebook and Reddit groups, and certain conventions, F1NG3RS’ music is beloved. His most viewed song on YouTube is “They Played Us Like a Damn Fiddle,” which is currently sitting around 522k (since the writing of this article).
“I’ve been trying to make something happen in Richmond, but the video game music scene is kinda slept on here. The past few years I did a lot of performing around town, we had a residency at Vagabond and did a running series called “Beats and Geeks” where we rotated out producers/DJ’s that did similar music. I was playing events at The Circuit as well, but something changed over there management wise. I’ve got my sights outside of Richmond right now,” said F1NG3RS.
Best known for his Metal Gear series inspired songs and remixes, F1NG3RS recently released a new remix track from the series, “Hanging by a Thread Remix.” The original track was created by Donna Burke and Stefanie Joosten, both voice actresses from the series. Supposedly, it will be the theme of the Metal Gear movie by Jordan Vogt-Roberts that is in the works.
Getting approved for sampling on streaming services was relatively easy for F1NG3RS as he is already a semi-acquaintance with Donna Burke. F1NG3RS received Burke’s endorsement in the past, as she occasionally comments on his Metal Gear remixes and even released a reaction video to his remix.
“Donna’s commented on my videos before (the Nuclear remix I did with Mintorment) but seeing her dance around and getting a nice critique at the end felt amazing. Quite the honor, for sure. I sampled her back in 2014 before The Phantom Pain was released, so for this to all happen makes it feel full circle,” stated F1NG3RS.
Recently, he has gotten his excessively elastic appendages on some new equipment, an Arturia Midi Controller which contains emulations of classic synths from the 80s. This has turned his sights to making more retro tunes. F1NG3RS currently is working on a remix from the video game “Death Stranding,” and one can imagine his equipment will have some influence on the final product. It will be released on GameChops, a music label for video game music that boasts over 300k YouTube subscribers.
F1NG3RS may be a little discouraged by Richmond’s music scene, but he has a couple of shows already lined up for next year. He has been booked to RegentCon in April and PixelFest, both events for gamers and VGM lovers alike.
“Last year was a busy live year, but this year there just hasn’t been much on that side of things. Mainly been working on the internet side, doing cameos and getting my music on other bigger channels (AngriestPat, Nitro Rad, PeachSaliva, and Mega64 all happened this year),” said F1NG3RS.
Collaboration projects are the biggest things on F1NG3RS plate at the moment. He recently released a track for the newest Zelda release with MC Lars and YouTube gamer TheCompletionist. He has an animated music video in the works with TMNT animator SquigglyDigg and is working on a third installment for his trilogy of Star Wars themed collaborations with Don Chirashi. The EP is named Return of the LoFi.
Seeking to branch out from solely creating video gaming music, F1NG3RS has decided to produce more music that would fit within the EDM genre. 2017’s VGM 3: Wasteland was the latest album released by F1NG3RS, and was the third and final installment of his VGM albums.
“I think for the next album, I’m getting away from that idea and am going to concentrate on shorter albums. It will still be video game influenced for sure, but the focus will be more on the darkwave/industrial electronic side. Music that can be used in games but doesn’t scream “video game music.” So there will be more original music in album form, but I think the “VGM” series is over. The last track on VGM 3: Wasteland was called “It’s Over,” so I think it’s a good place to pause it,” said F1NG3RS.
F1NG3RS is undoubtedly a unique artist, and despite all the odds against him, he will take inspiration from gaming and continue to make music until his final battle.
VCU Alumni, Malik Hall fell into writing by accident, but the best things in life are unplanned.”Music is permeates the soul is a language that is understood by everyone, why wouldn’t I want to write about up and coming artists.”
Queer duo Witch Weather discuss new album and the influence of the DMV on their sound.
Philadelphia-based queer punks Witch Weather have a message for anyone who feels hopeless and worthless: you are not alone. With an irresistible sound that draws from 80’s goth and lo-fi grunge, the indie duo wears their heart on their sleeve, giving voice to complex emotions that many would opt to suppress in the recesses of their minds.
Join Alchemical Records as they connect with Witch Weather to discuss the band’s new self-titled album, their search for a sense of belonging as members of the queer community, the important element that keeps the duo’s creative bond strong, and the influence of the DMV on their sound.